UC Davis drama students rehearse for The Zona Rosa Project performances next weekend. From left are Travis Kerr, Afi Ayanna, Skylar Collins, director Michael Barakiva, Ulysses Morazan and Felix Cuma. Brian Nguyen/Courtesy photo


Zona Rosa Project kicks off theater season at UC Davis

Check it out

What: The Zona Rosa Project

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 13-15, 2 p.m. Oct. 16

Where: Wyatt Pavilion Theatre, UC Davis

Tickets: Free, first-come, first-served

Info: theatredance.ucdavis.edu

By Janice Bisgaard

The evolution of gay rights is the focus of The Zona Rosa Project, a production of the UC Davis department of theater and dance, devised and directed by Granada Artist-in-Residence Michael Barakiva.

It is inspired by the real-life story of Francisco Estrada Valle, a Mexican doctor who was murdered in 1992 after taking an active role in the gay rights movement and the AIDS crisis.

The production opens at Wyatt Pavilion Theatre on campus on Thursday, Oct. 13, and plays through Sunday, Oct. 16. Admission is free; seating will be first-come, first-served.

The Zona Rosa Project explores Mexico’s developing attitude to HIV-positive individuals as well as the evolution of gay rights in the devoutly Catholic country. The project’s launching point is the life of Dr. Francisco Estrada Valle (1957-1992) whose murder has never been solved.

Barakiva aims to explore how Valle’s work changed the perception of homosexuality in Mexico, and the differences in attitudes toward homosexuality in rural and urban areas, among other themes.

“I am most interested in where the personal and the political overlap: How did a boy from a rural village become a galvanizing form in the urban heart of this country?” Barakiva asked.

“How did his medical profession influence his role in the AIDS crisis? What were the possible motives or identities of his murderers? How did Valle’s death affect the movement he had started?”

Barakiva is an Armenian/Israeli director based in New York City. His credits include the premieres of Wendy Wasserstein’s “Welcome to My Rash” and “Third” at Theater J in Washington, D.C., and the first workshop of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “UP” by Bridget Carpenter at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

He is the resident director of the Lake George Theater Lab and also appeared in an episode of MTV’s “Made,” coaching two high school students through the process of writing, directing and producing a play.

Award-winning UCD faculty members serve as production designers: John Iacovelli, scenic design; Maggie Morgan, costume design; and Thomas J. Munn, lighting design.

The ensemble cast includes UCD graduate student Afi Ayanna and undergraduates Christopher Boyle, Felix Cuma, Jaki Joanino, Michael Lutheran, Gordon Meacham, Ulysses Morazan, Connie Perez, Alison Sundstrom and Brendan Ward.

This production is rated PG-13. It contains frank discussions of homosexuality, including intricacies of the sexual act.

Talkbacks with the director, faculty and ensemble will take place after the performance. For more information, visit theatredance.ucdavis.edu.

Special to The Enterprise

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